- Museum number
A standing nude woman, seen from behind, her right arm raised
Black chalk, with brown wash
- Production date
Height: 250 millimetres
Width: 176 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Watermark: a snake.
Philip Pouncey put forward an attribution to Correggio in 1957 based on a similarity he perceived with a mythological drawing by that artist bought by him the same year. The latter drawing is now in the J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu (G.R. Goldner and L. Hendrix, 'European Drawings 1: Catalogue of the Collection', Malibu, 1988, no. 11; G.R. Goldner, in exhib. cat., BM, and New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 'Correggio and Parmigianino: Master Draughtsmen of the Renaissance', 2000, no. 5). The Getty drawing is not universally accepted as the work of Correggio and neither it, nor the present work,are included in David Ekserdjian's 1997 monograph on the artist. The latter observed (oral communication December 2014) that a similar figure appears as a sculpture in a niche in the background of an unidentified male portrait by Marco Basaiti formerly in the Benson collection, London, see A. Venturi, 'Storia dell'Arte Italiana, IX, La Pittura del Cinquecento', Milan, 1928, III, fig. 36, p. 57. The proportions of the two are somewhat different, but they might both depend on a common sculptural source.
Lit.: J.C. Robinson, 'Descriptive Catalogue of Drawings by the Old Masters, forming the Collection of John Malcolm of Poltalloch, Esq.', London, 1876, no. 52 (as Ascribed to Leonardo); A.E. Popham, 'Italian drawings in the BM, Artists working in Parma in the Sixteenth Century', London, 1967, I, no. 17*, II, pl. 15; K. Oberhuber, review of BM Parma catalogue, "Master Drawings", VIII, 1970, 3, p. 278 (rejects Correggio attribution); N. Turner, in exhib. cat., BM, 'The Study of Italian Drawings: The Contribution of Philip Pouncey', 1994, no. 43
The attribution to Correggio is based on the resemblance to the centre figure of the group of three Graces in one of the lunettes in the Camera di San Paolo (Ricci (1930), pl. lxiv). The correspondence is not exact - the position of the head and the arms is different and the figure in the drawing is more elongated in proportion - but the similarity in the modelling and in the way the light falls across the figure is very striking. It is difficult to believe that the resemblance is only coincidental: the drawing is certainly from the hand of a master, and from its style can hardly be later than about 1520. The watermark is of a type associated with Milan at the very end of the fifteenth century.
The drawing is described in the Malcolm Catalogue as "a careful study from an antique Greek bronze". That it does in fact derive from a work of sculpture is shown by a drawing in the Louvre (2640), also attributed to Leonardo da Vinci, of an identical figure in the same pose and seen from exactly the same point of view but standing on a low circular pedestal. I am informed by the Keeper of Greek and Roman Antiquities that no classical prototype is known. The extended arms of the figure together with the style of the base suggest a bronze statuette of a type that might, according to Mr. Pope-Hennessy, have been produced by or in the circle of the Mantuan sculptor Antico (c. 1460-1528).
The two drawings are not by the same hand, the one in the Louvre being clearly the work of a less accomplished draughtsman. To judge from the exact correspondence of viewpoint and from the way in which the figure is outlined in both drawings against a similarly shaped irregular area of dark wash, together with the difficulty that the draughtsman of both seems to have had in realizing the form of the l. foot, it is probable that the British Museum drawing is a copy of the other rather than an independent study after the same piece of sculpture; but whereas the Louvre drawing is to all appearances a direct copy of the sculptural prototype, the naturalistic treatment of the other is suggestive of a figure of flesh and blood. A similar transmutation can be seen in the Camera di San Paolo: as Ricci (1930, p. 60) points out, most of the lunettes are adapted either from Roman coins or Renaissance medals.
Literature: J.C.R. 52.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1994, BM, 'The Study of Italian Drawings', No.43
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number